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Philadelphia Phillies: 25 Greatest Player Nicknames in Franchise History

Greg PintoCorrespondent IApril 27, 2012

Philadelphia Phillies: 25 Greatest Player Nicknames in Franchise History

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    Baseball is a funny game.

    Under the top layer of competition exists a core of strategy, superstition, and of course, nicknames. The Philadelphia Phillies are no stranger to any of those things, but they're especially familiar with the nicknames part. After all, they've been around the block a few times.

    Established in 1883, countless players have come and gone for the Phillies, but it seems as though the ones we remember most had some kind of moniker that made them memorable. For example, do we remember Von Hayes for what he did on the field, or the "Five-for-One" nickname that made him popular?

    The Phillies certainly have never had a shortage of nicknames covering all types of monikers, from the intimidating to the comical. From a description of one's physical stature and attributes to their mental state, it seems as though the Phillies have had a nickname to cover all situations.

    These are only the top 25, but they are classics.

Honorable Mentions

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    Of course, narrowing this slideshow down to a final 25 was not a simple task, so I decided to assemble a lengthy "honorable mentions" slide for your enjoyment.

    - Ryan "The Big Piece" Howard

    - "Cactus" Gavvy Cravath

    - Glenn "Glennbo" Wilson

    - Tom "Flash" Gordon

    - Lonnie "Skates" Smith

    - Cory "Snacks" Lidle

    - Von "Five-for-One" Hayes

    - John "Vuke" Vukovich

    - Mike "Schmitty" Schmidt

    - John "Krukker" Kruk

    - Cole "Hollywood" Hamels

    - "Sliding" Billy Hamilton

    - Larry "Gnat" Bowa

    - Steve "Bedrock" Bedrosian

    - Ryan "Mad Dog" Madson

    - Antonio "El Pulpo (The Octopus)" Alfonseca

    - Octavio "Cookie" Rojas

    - Ralph "Putsy" Caballero

25. "Hot Sauce"

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    Former second-round draft pick never had much of a career with the Phillies outside of a solid season in relief during 1980, but that was enough to help the club to their first World Series title and garner him an endearing nickname.

    His last name was commonly mispronounced. Though Kevin Saucier's last name was actually pronounced "So-Shay," his wild antics on the mound only made it easier for the fans to dub him "Hot Sauce."

24. "Lights Out"

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    Brad Lidge's nickname didn't apply often during his tenure in Philadelphia, but when the Phillies needed him the most in 2008, he sealed his fate as a sports legend in this town.

    Few closers in the history of this game have ever had perfect seasons, wherein they didn't blow a single save, and even fewer have led their club to a World Series title by doing so.

    But Lidge did, and for at least that season, he truly was "Lights Out."

23. "Vanimal"

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    Vance Worley hasn't been around for long, but the "Vanimal" has already made a name for himself.

    Given his nickname in college, Worley has always been the type of player whom Phillies fans can rally behind. He's the underdog, trying to cut his teeth in a starting rotation with an unbelievable pedigree and he's holding his own.

    That's when the "Vanimal" comes out. Glaring out at the batter through his specs, Worley is an intense competitor, and it didn't take long for him to become a fan favorite.

22. "Dandy Little Glove Man"

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    When you're a scrappy little player like Mickey Morandini with a very limited upside and not much to offer at the plate, you have to make a name for yourself doing something at the MLB level.

    Morandini made his by being a solid defender, and well, short.

    The definition of a "gritty" player, Morandini's hard-nosed play at second base earned him the moniker of the "Dandy Little Glove Man."

    Nowadays, he's the "Dandy Little Manager Man."

    That's not going to stick, is it?

21. "Pat the Bat"

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    He may not be the first ballot Hall of Famer that a lot of Phillies fans expected when he was drafted with the first overall pick of the 1998 draft, but Pat Burrell's offensive prowess—and complete lack of any defensive know-how—earned him a nickname that just rolls off the tongue: "Pat the Bat."

    During his prime, Burrell's powerful bat led some to question whether he was man or machine, and the former left fielder lived up to that mystique in more ways than one.

    In perhaps the greatest moment of his Phillies' career, "Pat the Bat" launched that huge double as Game 5 of the 2008 World Series resumed.

    A few days later, he led the parade down Broad Street.

20. "The Man"

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    Here's a statement that even Mitch Williams can agree with: When Harry Kalas gives you a nickname, it sticks.

    So while Chase Utley's nickname isn't as unflattering as calling a fearsome closer "Mitchie Poo," if Kalas calls you the man, then you become "The Man," and that's just the case for Utley.

    You could always hear Kalas' joy of watching Utley play in the way he broadcast games, but perhaps, there was no better moment than when Utley, who rounded third and scored on a heads up play, brushed the dirt off of his uniform as Kalas boldly proclaimed, "Chase Utley, you are the man!"

19. "Doc"

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    In a lot of ways, Roy Halladay is an outlaw. Once a top prospect, he found himself demoted by the Toronto Blue Jays a long while ago and faced a tough road back, but that's what makes him one of the best pitchers in the game today—he's fierce. He has a "never give up" attitude.

    He shares a lot of traits with the man whom he derives his nickname from—the infamous outlaw, "Doc" Holliday. 

    But he's also called "Doc" for a different reason. Maybe it's that surgical precision he uses. Maybe it's the way that he carves up batters without much effort.

    Whatever the case may be, it fits.

18. "Shake N' Bake"

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    Bake McBride may not have had the most sensational career, but he sure was a fan-favorite in Philadelphia.

    A former Rookie of the Year winner, "Shake 'n Bake" came to the Phillies in a trade from the St. Louis Cardinals during the 1977 season and patrolled the outfield over the next couple of seasons.

    Though he never appeared in an All-Star Game for the Phillies, his routine scuffing of the batter's box made him an annoyance to the umpires and a joy for fans in Philly.

    He also helped the club win a World Series title in 1980, which never hurt his reputation.

17. "Crash" or "The Wampum Walloper"

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    Dick Allen was so talented that one nickname just wouldn't suffice.

    The Phillies signed the immensely talented Allen as an amateur free agent out of Wampum High School in Wampum, Pennsylvania, and when he made his debut a few seasons later and began terrorizing pitchers, he became known as the "Wampum Walloper."

    Allen always found himself getting into trouble though, and at one point in his career, the fans disliked him so much that he had to wear a hard helmet out to play the field to protect himself from being hit with garbage. That earned him the nickname of "Crash."

    Whatever the nickname, however, Allen's career is tremendously underappreciated, and I would hope that his tremendous nicknames are not.

16. "Dr. Strangeglove"

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    I'm not even sure what "Dr. Strangeglove" really means, but it's an awesome nickname.

    That's the moniker that former Phillies' first baseman Dick Stuart went by, probably against his will. The name, derived from the famous old comedy Dr. Strangelove, was a comment on Stuart's poor defense at first base.

    His teammates loved giving him nicknames that paid homage to great films of the day and simultaneously mocked his defense.

    When the movie Goldfinger was released, his teammates dubbed him "Stonefingers." Later, when the Man with the Iron Mask debuted, Stuart became known as the "Man with the Iron Glove."

    You have to love that teammate camaraderie.

15. "Puddin' Head"

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    Baseball certainly brings out the creativeness in people, as shown by former Phillies' third baseman Willie Jones, who was called "Puddin' Head" during his playing days.

    A slow-footed third baseman from Dillon, South Carolina, Jones was a big part of the club's lineup for more than a decade, including during that storybook 1950 season when he was one of the best players the "Whiz Kids" fielded.

    To this day, I'm not sure whether or not "Puddin' Head" is actually an endearing term.

14. "Tugger"

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    Tug McGraw was the most popular closer this organization has ever known.

    He was everything that Phillies fans could have hoped for, coming to the Phillies in a trade from a division rival, putting his team on his back during the postseason and delivering the city of Philadelphia its first ever World Series title.

    He came to be known as "Tugger," and the fans loved him. He'd say something hilarious off the field, have a good time, and then come to the ballpark ready for war.

    McGraw would come out of the bullpen, slapping his thigh with his glove, and more often than not, he got the job done.

    To this day, McGraw is a Phillies legend who's truly missed.

13. "Dutch"

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    When Darren Daulton took over as the Phillies' everyday catcher in 1989, it wasn't long before he was the undeniable leader in the clubhouse and a fan favorite.

    "Dutch" was a great two-way catcher—solid behind the plate and at the dish. His leadership was the glue that held the crazy, misfit 1993 Phillies team together and helped them challenge for a World Series title, against all odds.

    To this day, "Dutch" remains an immensely popular person in Philadelphia, hosting some Phillies postgame shows and never slipping by on the street unnoticed.

12. "The Secretary of Defense"

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    Garry Maddox was a pretty good hitter. He was never great but did all of the small things right and tossed in a couple of very impressive seasons to leave his mark as a hitter.

    The name of his game was defense.

    Maddox was an elite defensive center fielder with incredible range and a vacuum for a glove. He was a true field general, and it wasn't long before the fans and players were calling him the "Secretary of Defense" because of his work in center.

11. "The Bull"

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    All it took was a quick look at Greg Luzinski to know why people called him "The Bull."

    First and foremost, he was huge. Luzinski was 6'1" and 220 pounds of pure power. He looked like a linebacker playing left field, and while that wasn't always a good thing for the Phillies (he kind of played defense like a bull in a china shop), it was always intimidating.

    What was more intimidating was when he stepped to the plate. He was a monstrous presence for any pitcher, and if he squared a ball up, it was going to leave the yard in a hurry.

    That's what made him "The Bull."

10. "Sarge"

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    Anyone who is only familiar with Gary Matthews as a broadcaster for the Phillies is really missing out on what made him one of the most intimidating players of his time.

    At 6'2" and 185 pounds, Matthews had a certain intimidating presence naturally, but he had this innate ability to strike fear in the heart of an opposing pitcher with just a glance. He took wild, mean hacks at the plate and would bulldoze a catcher within arm's reach of the plate.

    That's what earned him the nickname of "Sarge." He took control of a game like few players could, and while he was never an overly successful player, he was great in his own right and played the game with a fire few could match.

9. "Charlie Hustle"

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    It isn't hard to understand why people called Pete Rose "Charlie Hustle."

    Everything that Rose did was with the gear stuck in full throttle. You don't get to be the game's all-time leader in hits without playing the game the way Rose did—a style of baseball that Phillies fans just happen to love.

    He'd knock a single into the outfield and bust it down the first-base line, taking a huge turn towards second. When he stole a base, he'd run like something had just exploded behind him and use his famous head-first slide to make sure he reached his new base safely.

    Any catcher who stood in his way on a close play felt the wrath of "Charlie Hustle," even in an All-Star Game.

    The fact of the matter is that few players have ever played the game as hard as Rose, and there will never be another "Charlie Hustle."

8. "Wild Thing"

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    Before Charlie Sheen turned Rick Vaughn into the "Wild Thing" in the popular baseball movie Major League, Mitch Williams did it in real life.

    After joining the Phillies, Williams settled into the closer's role nicely. It's often said that men that pitch in the ninth inning are cut from a different cloth, and Williams was certainly no exception.

    On two different pitches, both fastballs, he could whiz one right by the batter's ear and then blow him away with a fastball right down the middle.

    That's what made "Wild Thing" exciting.

7. "Whitey" or "Put-Put"

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    Richie Ashburn was a simple guy from Tilden, Nebraska, before he made it to the MLB, and after that happened, it didn't take long for him to become a Phillies' legend, and eventually, a Hall of Famer.

    His physical appearance garnered him his first nickname. Under his red Phillies cap existed a head of hair so blonde it was almost white, and friends, fans, and players began calling him "Whitey" because of it.

    On the field, his running style earned him another nickname. He was never overly fat, but teammates often joked that when he ran, he made a certain noise. That certain noise was described as "Put-Put"—another nickname that would stick with Ashburn.

6. "Death to Flying Things"

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    Few players have used this awesome nickname since, but the first person to play in the MLB as "Death to Flying Things" was former Philadelphia Quakers' outfielder Bob Ferguson.

    The fact that Ferguson spent just one season with the Quakers—their inaugural season of 1883—and is still recognized for this nickname to this day is quite impressive, but that's not what I find most interesting.

    The little tidbit that raises my eyebrows is that "Death to Flying Things"... was an infielder.

5. "The Flyin' Hawaiian"

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    Flying things are putting a stranglehold on the top of this slideshow.

    With Bob "Death to Flying Things" Ferguson holding down the No. 6 spot, the man who places ahead of him will be none other than "The Flyin' Hawaiian" Shane Victorino.

    It seems like a lot of Hawaiian-born players have similar nicknames, but few have ever carried them as successfully as Victorino, who's speed on the basepaths and center fielder has turned him into one of the game's best, but most underrated players.

    Great nicknames tend to go hand in hand with certain players, and the top five guys on this list and their nicknames are nearly inseparable.

    Let's face it, few Hawaiians have ever flown like Victorino.

4. "The Dude," "Nails" or "Dr. Dirt"

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    Lenny Dykstra may have gone off the deep end in recent years, and he isn't nearly as popular now as he was during his playing days, but it's hard to say that the former center fielder didn't have at least two of the most popular nicknames in Phillies' history.

    "The Dude" came to the Phillies as part of a trade with the New York Mets, and when they gave him an opportunity to play every day, he grabbed it by the horns. His brash, hard-nosed style not only made him a fan favorite, but also earned him a very endearing nickname in the city of Philadelphia: "Nails."

    He was also known for a third, less-popular nickname—"Dr. Dirt"—for obvious reasons, including his style of play, in contrast to Dale Murphy's "Mr. Clean" persona.

3. "J-Roll"

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    Few players have ever become their nickname like Jimmy Rollins has.

    Now the Phillies' shortstop for more than a decade, Rollins' nickname just comes naturally. Anyone who has watched him play knows why fans, teammates and coaches call him "J-Roll."

    He was a speed demon in his earlier years, creating havoc on the basepaths and making unbelievable plays at shortstop.

    As far as I'm aware of, the smooth, charismatic voice of the Phillies is the only player on this list to trademark his nickname—and rightfully so.

    There will never be another "J-Roll." He's one of a kind.

2. "Lefty"

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    Countless left-handed pitchers have played this game. Some of the all-time greats and all-time disasters were left-handed pitchers. In fact, throughout the history of this game, a lot of  guys have gone by the nickname of "Lefty" thanks to their handedness, but one stands above the rest.

    When someone references "Lefty," any baseball person knows they mean Steve Carlton.

    The greatest pitcher in the history of the organization, Carlton made a name for himself by being one of the best left-handed starters of all time, with a good fastball and ridiculous off-speed pitches.

    He had a unique personality that was as intriguing as his ability, and that's what made him "Lefty."

1. "Chooch"

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    In the end, only one nickname has become so synonymous with its respective player that it completely blurs the lines between what is a nickname and what is his real name.

    OK, so that was a little dramatic, but you can't deny that no player represents his nickname better than "Chooch"—and that's not meant to be an insult.

    You see, Carlos Ruiz's nickname comes from some shady origins. When he was in the minor leagues, every time he would make a mistake, Ruiz would pound his fist into his glove and yell out a certain Spanish expletive that you wouldn't want your children to here.

    Give it a fun spin, a lighter nature, and a player who truly appreciates playing the game, and "Chooch" is born, and Phillies fans love him.

     

    For news, rumors, analysis and game recaps during spring training, check out Greg's blog: The Phillies Phactor!

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